Potatoes are a flexible root vegetable that is a popular household staple. They’re a kind of underground tuber that grows on the Solanum tuberosum plant’s roots. The potato is a starchy tuber of the plant Solanum tuberosum, which is a perennial in the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
Potato plants are herbaceous perennials with leaves that die back after flowering, fruiting, and tuber development, growing up to 60 cm (24 in) tall, depending on variety. Flowers with yellow stamens are white, pink, red, blue, or purple. Tubers from varieties with white flowers usually have white skins, while tubers from varieties with colored flowers typically have pinkish skins. Potatoes are mostly cross-pollinated by insects like bumblebees, which bring pollen from other potato plants, though self-fertilization is also common.
Potato plants grow tiny green fruits that look like green cherry tomatoes after flowering, each containing about 300 seeds. The fruit, like all other aspects of the plant except the tubers, contains the toxic alkaloid solanine and is therefore unfit for eating. To distinguish it from seed tubers, all new potato varieties are grown from seeds, also known as “true potato seed,” “TPS,” or “botanical seed.” Planting tubers, pieces of tubers cut to include at least one or two eyes, or cuttings, a practice used in greenhouses to produce healthy seed tubers, are all options for vegetative propagation of new varieties grown from seed. Tuber-propagated plants are clones of the parent, while seed-propagated plants contain a variety of species.
Types (Species) of Potatoes
There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes, but below are the eight most common categories:
- Russet Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Red Potatoes
- White Potatoes
- Fingerling Potatoes
- Yellow Potatoes
- Purple Potatoes
- Petite Potatoes
The majority of potatoes grown worldwide are russets, which are what most people think of when they hear the word “potato.” With a slightly rough brown-grey skin, the flesh is light and fluffy when cooked, and the skin becomes chewy.
Sweet potatoes are not potatoes, despite the fact that they are sold in the same produce category. While all potatoes are tubers, sweet potatoes are a root vegetable that belongs to the nightshade family. Since sweet potatoes have a rough reddish orange texture, they are usually peeled before or after cooking. The bright orange interior is creamy and sweet, making it suitable for both savory and sweet dishes.
Red potatoes are one of the waxiest kinds, which means they keep their shape even after being cooked. Since their skin is reddish in color and slim, most recipes do not require peeling. When cooked, the red potato’s interior is bright white with a thick texture.
White potatoes are similar in taste and appearance to russet potatoes, but because of their much thinner skin, you can sometimes bypass the peeling step for a number of recipes, as the exterior can become very soft when cooking.
Fingerling potatoes are about the size of a big finger and vary in size from two to four inches. They are available in a range of colours, including white, purple, yellow, and red. Fingerling potatoes have thin skins and a waxy interior that is often streaked with color veins. Because of their fun shape, they’re often cooked whole or simply halved in dishes.
Yellow potatoes are one of the most popular potato varieties, thanks to their naturally buttery flavor and velvety smooth interior. Their skin is thin, but when fried or roasted, it crisps up beautifully. Yellow potatoes are often called “golden potatoes,” although this is possibly due to a mix-up with Yukon Gold, a packaged potato type with a lower starch content.
Purple potatoes are hard to miss in the produce department, with their dark skin and lavender flesh. Purple potatoes have a higher vitamin content than other potato types due to their dark pigment. Their insides are slightly floury and starchy, with a mildly earthy taste.
Creamers or baby potatoes are other names for petite potatoes. These tiny potatoes aren’t a specific kind of potato, but just a size grouping. A “petite potato” can be any kind of potato (yellow, red, etc.) as long as it is a very small spud. Bear in mind that even in a smaller size, the potatoes would have the same taste and texture as their larger counterparts, so keep that in mind while preparing.
Historical Background (Origin) of Potatoes
Pre-Columbian farmers first domesticated the potato near Lake Titicaca in what is now southern Peru and northwestern Bolivia. Since then, it has spread around the world and has become a staple crop in many countries. The oldest archaeologically confirmed potato tuber remains date from 2500 BC and were discovered on the coast of Ancon (central Peru). Solanum tuberosum tuberosum, the most commonly cultivated variety, is native to the Chiloé Archipelago and has been cultivated by local indigenous peoples since before the Spanish conquest.
According to conservative figures, the potato was responsible for a quarter of the increase in population and urbanization in the Old World between 1700 and 1900. Potatoes became the main source of nutrition for the Inca civilization, its predecessors, and its Spanish successors in the Altiplano. Following the overthrow of the Inca Empire by the Spanish in the second half of the 16th century, the potato was introduced to Europe as part of the Columbian trade. European mariners then sent the staple to colonies and ports all over the globe. The potato took a long time to catch on with European farmers, but once it did, it became a valuable food staple and field crop that helped fuel Europe’s population boom in the nineteenth century. Owing to the small number of varieties originally introduced, the crop was resistant to disease due to a lack of genetic diversity. Late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans, spread quickly to poorer populations in western Ireland and parts of the Scottish Highlands in 1845, resulting in crop failures that contributed to the Great Irish Famine. Thousands of varieties still exist in the Andes, where a single valley may have over 100 cultivars, with a dozen or more being managed by a single agricultural family.
Nutritional (Composition) Value of Potatoes
Many vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamin C, are contained in cooked potatoes with skin. Potatoes are mainly comprised of starch, with moderate levels of protein and fiber — but almost no fat — and are rich in water when fresh. Calories (87), water (77%), protein (1.9 grams), carbohydrates (20.1 grams), sugar (0.9 grams), fiber (0.1 grams), and fat (1.8 grams) are all present in 2/3 cup (100 grams) of boiled potatoes — cooked with the skin but without salt.
Carbohydrates, mostly in the form of starch, make up the bulk of potatoes. Carbohydrate content varies between 66 and 90 percent of dry weight. Limited amounts of simple sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose are also available. The GI is a scale that tests how carbohydrates change your blood sugar levels after a meal. However, depending on the variety and cooking process, certain potatoes may be in the medium scale. Cooling potatoes after cooking reduces their blood sugar impact and lowers their GI by 25–26%.
Although potatoes are not a high-fiber food, daily consumption of them can provide a significant source of fiber. The skin, which accounts for 1–2% of the potato, has the highest fiber content. In reality, dried skins contain around 50% fiber. Pectin, cellulose, and hemicellulose are all insoluble fibers found in potatoes. They also produce varying quantities of resistant starch, a kind of fiber that feeds your gut’s beneficial bacteria and improves digestion. Resistant starch can also help with blood sugar management by lowering blood sugar spikes after meals. When compared to hot potatoes, cooler potatoes have more resistant starch.
Potatoes have poor protein content, ranging between 1–1.5 percent fresh to 8–9% dry weight. Potatoes, in particular, have the lowest protein content of any traditional food crop, including wheat, rice, and corn. Potatoes, on the other hand, have a high protein quality for a product, surpassing that of soybeans and other legumes. Patatin, the main protein found in potatoes, can induce allergic reactions in some people.
Potatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium and vitamin C. The levels of some vitamins and minerals drop during cooking, but this reduction can be minimized by baking or boiling them with the skin on.
Sweet potatoes are a nutrient-dense and delicious root vegetable. Due to their naturally orange colour, sweet potatoes have been discovered to be one of the richest sources of vitamin A, vitamin B5, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and carotenoids. The sweet potato, also known as Ipomoea batatas, is high in nutrients and also has a number of medicinal properties. Sweet potatoes have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-cancer effects by scientists. The most common color for sweet potatoes is orange, but they also come in purple, yellow, white, pink, and red. The following are some of the health advantages of including sweet potatoes into our daily diet.
Prevents Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is a serious problem, especially in developed countries. Vitamin A deficiency has serious health consequences, including reduced susceptibility to infectious disease, increased infectious morbidity, dry eyes, and increased mortality in pregnant and lactating women and their children. Because sweet potatoes contain a high amount of beta-carotene, they are an excellent source of Vitamin A. In our livers, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, with each molecule of beta-carotene producing two molecules of vitamin A.
Helps in Managing Diabetes
Sweet potatoes are classified as medium to moderate on the glycemic index scale, and some tests have shown that they can help people with diabetes avoid insulin resistance and low blood sugar levels, as well as high blood sugar. Sweet potatoes, unlike other starchy foods, have a low glycemic level, which ensures they release sugar steadily into the bloodstream. This slow release of sugar is what helps people keep their blood sugar levels in check so they don’t go too low or too high. Thus, the sweet potatoes can be used in the regulation of blood sugar levels especially in people with diabetes. Both forms of diabetes, type I and type II, are affected by this regulation.
The fiber in sweet potatoes is thought to help with diabetes management as well. The sweet potato is a high-fiber food that has been shown to help people with type 1 diabetes reduce their blood sugar levels. Soluble fibers, such as pectin, make up 10-15% of the fiber in sweet potatoes and are helpful in lowering calorie intake and blood sugar spikes.
Insoluble fibers make up about 77 percent of sweet potato fibers, and they have their own part to play in the fight against diabetes. Insoluble fibers are necessary for fostering insulin sensitivity, which aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
Sweet potatoes are also a good source of magnesium, which has been found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in people.
Helps in Stress Management
Sweet potatoes have a high magnesium content, which is an essential mineral for normal body function. One of the most significant magnesium properties is that it aids in the reduction of stress and anxiety. According to studies, an increase in magnesium deficiency in modern diets has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of cases of depression recorded worldwide. Magnesium deficiency, for example, has been linked to depression in women suffering premenstrual symptoms in several controlled trials.
Since both have cell-mediated immune responses and bodywide inflammation, magnesium deficiency and depression are related. Magnesium supplementation prevents the brain from anxiety and/or depression after a traumatic injury. Furthermore, a reduction in magnesium has been linked to an uptick in anxiety-related activities as well as depression in research. Magnesium has also been shown to help people who are older sleep well. Insomnia can lead to fatigue, depression, and anxiety, which is tragic because more than half of the elderly suffer from sleep deprivation.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins, the majority of which are anti-inflammatory. Purple sweet potato extracts were found to have the ability to inhibit the development of active inflammatory components in the body in studies conducted on the vegetable variant.
Sweet potatoes also have a lot of choline, which is a nutrient that can be used in a variety of ways. Choline has a number of advantages, one of which is that it lowers inflammatory reactions in the body, resulting in less inflammation. Extracts from the purple sweet potato were found to contain anthocyanins, which were found to be important in reducing and preventing inflammation in colon cancer cells, as well as reducing cell proliferation in particular cancer cells, in other studies.
Helps Protect/Prevent/Manage Cancer
In the battle against cancer, purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are particularly successful. This sweet potato variety contains elements that can prevent the development of some cancers, such as breast cancer, gastric cancer, and colon cancer, by causing cancer cells to die. The high anthocyanin content of sweet potatoes is thought to be the cause for their anti-cancer properties in gastric and breast cancers. Prostate cancer cells can also be killed by extracts from various parts of the sweet potato, meaning that the cancer doesn’t really spread to other parts of the prostate.
Sweet potatoes’ anti-cancer role in controlling prostate cancer is attributed to their high polyphenol content, according to scientists. The presence of carotenoids like beta-carotene in sweet potatoes has also been linked to a lower risk of men developing prostate cancer. Beta-carotene has also been shown to help people avoid and reduce their chances of contracting colorectal cancer.
Helps Guard against Ulcers
An ulcer is a painful condition that happens when inflamed tissue is shed from the mucous membrane or the skin. A sweet potato root methanol extract can shield gastrointestinal tissues from aspirin-induced ulcers. Peptic ulcers can be treated and managed with the help of sweet potatoes. Furthermore, potato flour suppresses gastric ulceration by decreasing swelling in the surrounding tissues and shielding the gastric wrinkles, and potato extracts have been shown to have free radical scavengers, which are important in the healing of internal wounds.
Minimizes the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
In the body, oxidation causes problems like atherosclerosis, which can lead to the progression of a variety of cardiovascular disorders. Scientists studied sweet potato leaf extracts and discovered that the elevated amounts of polyphenols in the extracts were able to inhibit oxidation in humans, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Because of their comparatively modest rate of radical scavenging behavior and a high number of polyphenol compounds, scientists say the vegetable’s leaves have significant antioxidant properties. Its antioxidant effects are aided by its scavenging activity and elevated amounts of polyphenols, which tend to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Other research experiments also shown that the purple-fleshed sweet potato’s elevated levels of anthocyanin led to the vegetable’s potential to reduce the risk of coronary disease. Sweet potatoes also contain soluble dietary fibers, which have been attributed to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Contains Antimicrobial Properties
Several experimental studies have shown that the sweet potato does have some antimicrobial activity. According to some research, sweet potato leaf ethanol and acetone extracts have antimicrobial properties against bacteria that cause pneumonia and typhoid. Sweet potato fiber has also been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause food poisoning. Sweet potato leaf powder, as well as its water, ethanol, and peptone extracts, have been shown to have antimicrobial activity against Salmonella typhi, E.coli, and Klebsiella pneumonia in other studies.
Helps Improve Hair and Skin
Vitamin A is abundant in sweet potatoes. Vitamin C and E are also abundant in the vegetables. Vitamin E supplementation or dietary intake has been shown in studies to substantially increase the number of hairs in people who are experiencing hair loss. Vitamin E contains antioxidant properties that aid in the reduction of oxidative stress, which is a major cause of alopecia.
Vitamin C has long been recognized as an important dermatological treatment for photoaging and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is also effective at reducing oxidative stress caused by UV light exposure. Furthermore, combining Vitamin C and E will substantially lower the risk of skin cancer in people. Vitamin C is also needed for the synthesis of collagen, the skin’s main structural protein. Vitamin C has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of tests. This means that the vitamin will aid in the management of skin diseases like acne, as well as the healing of skin wounds.
The use of vitamin A in the treatment and management of sun-damaged skin has been confirmed. Furthermore, tests have shown that the antioxidant, in combination with chemotherapy and other therapeutic options, is beneficial in the treatment of skin cancer. Vitamin A has also been shown in other research to be an efficient collagen stimulant, rendering it useful in reducing the rate of normal cell aging and preventing skin photoaging.
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, which has long been believed to improve gut and digestion quality. Many laxatives on the market today are made from fibers, so eating sweet potatoes will help you get some of the fibers you need for better digestion. Sweet potatoes’ high fiber content will also help to reduce constipation in both children and adults.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Since sweet potatoes are high in magnesium and potassium, they can help control blood pressure. According to studies, consuming more potassium lowers blood pressure, lowering the risk of a stroke or coronary artery disease. Magnesium is also thought to be a useful dietary factor in the prevention and reduction of hypertension in both pregnant and non-pregnant patients. Furthermore, other studies have discovered that magnesium deficiency in the body raises the risk factors for hypertension development.
Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, making them perfect for women of childbearing age who want to improve their fertility. Vitamin A has been shown to play an important role in enhancing reproductive efficiency in animal models. Vitamin A deficiency has also been linked to secondary infertility in women of childbearing age, according to research.
Sweet potatoes also contain a healthy dose of iron, which is a crucial mineral in promoting fertility in women of childbearing age. Reports indicate that anaemia, or iron deficiency, is a cause of infertility among women. These reports have shown that treating the iron deficiency by increasing dietary intake of iron usually results in women being able to conceive a few months to a year after the treatment. Other studies have found that an increase in dietary iron intake reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility.
Enhances Good Vision
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, and while most of us are aware that vitamin A is beneficial to our vision, we might not be aware of how the vitamin works. The vitamin is required for the formulation of the pigments responsible for light absorption, according to research. Vitamin A is also essential for preserving the retina’s proper functioning. Vitamin A deficiency can cause blurry vision and, in some cases, blindness. Night blindness can also be caused by a vitamin deficiency.
Some eye conditions, such as corneal dryness, ulceration, and conjunctivitis, have also been attributed to vitamin A deficiency. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and vitamin E. A research conducted in India discovered a connection between Vitamin C deficiency and the development of cataracts. Other studies have found that both vitamin C and E can be beneficial in the battle against oxidative stress, which is linked to the development of cataracts in the eyes.
Helps in Weight Management
Sweet potatoes contain soluble and fermentable fiber, which increases satiety and provides the body with a normal, self-sustaining weight-control system. Pectin, one of the main soluble dietary fibers found in sweet potatoes, has been shown in studies to reduce food consumption, weight gain, and increase the activity of satiety hormones in the body.
Research studies have also shown that a higher fiber consumption is closely linked to a reduction in body weight. An increase in sweet potato consumption will result in an increase in fiber intake, which will lead to a reduction in body weight.
The purple sweet potato’s anthocyanin has been found to have memory-enhancing effects in different studies. The fundamental assumption is that anthocyanins’ antioxidant effects are what make sweet potatoes memory enhancers.